New breakwater bridge inaugurated in blaze of lights
The new breakwater bridge in Valletta was inaugurated in a colourful display of lights this evening, 71 years almost to the day since the original structure was demolished in an Italian torpedo boat attack during the second world war.
The new structure, similar to the old one but formed of a single span instead of two, was inaugurated by Infrastructure Minister Austin Gatt, who said it symbolised the rejuvenation of Valletta and Grand Harbour, which are going through the most extensive rehabilitation process in their history.
One of the spans of the old bridge was brought down in the brave attack by the Italian Tenth Assault Flotilla on July 26, 1941 as its boats tried to enter Grand Harbour to attack newly-arrived cargo ships. The attack was a total failure and all the attacking boats were picked out by the coastal floodlights and destroyed.
The breakwater bridge - linking Fort St Elmo to the North breakwater arm, was removed after the war and only the central pillars remained - and they have been retained to this day.
The new 190-ton structure was built in Spain and placed across the 70-metre gap in October. The project cost some €2.8m.
Dr Gatt said the government was giving new dignity to Valletta thanks to the City Gate project, the restoration of the bastions and of the Palace and the Auberge de Castille, the rehabilitation of Palace square, as well as the paving and pedestrianisation of the capital's main streets and the rebuilding of the Barrakka lift.
These were works which were also creating jobs and making Valletta a more attractive tourist destination.
Some 76,000 tourists had entered Grand Harbour on cruise ships in the first five months of this year, Dr Gatt observed, and the rebuilding of this bridge continued to confirm Valletta's Grand Harbour as one of the finest harbours in the Mediterranean.
Dr Gatt's address was followed by a colourful lights-to-music display, with a ministry official saying there are plans for something similar to be presented as a regular attraction.